HHS WINTERFEST ROYALTY… was crowned last Friday, Feb. 14 during halftime of the Hartford Indians thrilling 64-60 overtime win over the Mendon Hornets. The four students crowned are (from the left): seniors Yovana Naranjo and Elijah Ledesma (king and queen), sophomore Khashya McCoy (princess) and junior Jacob Morales (prince). The Lady Indians began the evening with a 48-25 thump of the Lady Hornets to make it a double win for the Green & White in front of a big Winterfest home crowd. (Photo courtesy of the Hartford Public Schools Facebook page)
Infant Safe Sleep
There have been dramatic improvements in reducing baby deaths during sleep since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place babies on their back for sleep. However, since the late 1990s, declines have slowed. More than 3,500 babies in the U.S. still die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping. Experts recommend several steps for all parents and caregivers to take to provide a safe sleep environment for their babies: Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night. We know babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. Some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, but the baby’s airway anatomy and the gag reflex will keep that from happening. Use a firm sleep surface, like a crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It is recommended to also use a tight-fitting, firm mattress and fitted sheet designed for that particular product. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby. Be sure that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby, so that your baby does not roll into any of those items, which could cause blockage of air flow. Room share, but never bed share – keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first six months or, ideally, for the first year. Room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby. To learn more about recommended actions for keeping babies safe while sleeping, visit the Berrien County Health Department at www.bchdmi.org.
Ready to retire? Apply online with Social Security
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement and our online tools can help. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount to access your “my Social Security” account to get a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits based on your earnings record. Once you have an account, you can use our Retirement Calculator, to check out how your benefits change at different ages. Don’t have a “my Social Security” account? You can create one at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount or you can use our online Retirement Estimator to get benefit estimates at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. You can also use your “my Social Security” account to see your entire work history to be sure we have all of your wages recorded correctly, which is important because we base your benefit amount on the earnings reported to us. If you find an error with your work history, read this publication for more information: www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf. When you’re ready to apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you can conveniently complete our online application in as little as 15 minutes at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/retirement. We will contact you if we need any further information. You can check the status of your application through your online account. You can apply online for Social Security retirement, or benefits as a spouse, if you: Are at least 61 years and 9 months old; are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record; have not already applied for retirement benefits; want your benefits to start no later than four months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than four months in advance.) Find out more about our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Hymn Sing March 7
All are invited to the next Community Hymn Sing at Plymouth Congregational Church on Saturday evening March 7 at 6 p.m. The church is located on Red Arrow Highway across the street from the laundromat in Watervliet. Attendees will enjoy singing some of the traditional favorite hymns again. There will be ice cream and cookies afterwards. All are welcome.
Coloma Schools events
Friday, February 21 JV Girls Basketball at River Valley, 4:15 p.m.; Varsity Girls/Boys Basketball vs. Gobles, 6:00/7:30 p.m.; Winterfest Semi-Formal Dance, Alwood Gym, 8:00 – 10:30 p.m. Saturday, February 22 Individual Wrestling Regionals TBA Monday, February 24 Jr. High Study Hall Closed Tuesday, February 25 Elementary and Intermediate Parent Teacher Conferences, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.; JV/Varsity Girls Basketball vs. Dowagiac, 5:30/7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 26 2-Hour Late Start; Jr. High Parent Teacher Conferences, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Thursday, February 27 Jr. High and High School Progress Notes Available; Elementary School Parent Teacher Conferences 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.; JV Girls/Boys Basketball vs. Watervliet, 5:30/7:00 p.m.
What does end of ‘Stretch IRA’ mean to you? If your IRA is big enough to help you pay for retirement with enough left over to leave to your heirs, you’ll want to pay close attention to some recently enacted legislation – because it could have a big impact on your estate plans. Here’s the background: As part of the 2019 SECURE Act, which includes provisions to help people build their retirement savings, the so-called “stretch IRA” has been limited for most non-spouse beneficiaries. Under the old rules, non-spouse beneficiaries could withdraw money from an inherited IRA gradually, over their lifetimes. By “stretching” out these payments, beneficiaries could spread out the tax burden, as withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxable at an individual’s personal tax rate. Now, most non-spouse beneficiaries have to withdraw everything from the IRA by the end of the tenth year after the account owner passes away – which could present a tax problem. At a minimum, this change should lead you to review your estate plans, assuming you won’t need all the money in your IRA to support your retirement lifestyle. But what else can you do in response to the loss of a stretch IRA? One possible move is to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. As you may know, a traditional IRA can grow on a tax-deferred basis and your contributions may be tax deductible, depending on your income level. Roth IRA contributions are never deductible, but earnings withdrawals are tax-free, provided you’ve had your account at least five years and you don’t start taking withdrawals until you’re at least 59-1/2. What’s more, you can pass on the ability to make tax-free withdrawals to the beneficiaries you’ve named to receive your IRA. However – and this is a pretty big “however” – if you were to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you would trigger a tax bill that could be substantial. Essentially, you’d owe taxes on any money in the traditional IRA that would have been taxed when you withdrew it. So, you’d likely need a sizable amount of funds available, held outside your IRA, to pay this tax bill. Is it worth it? You’ll have to do your own cost-benefit analysis while pondering a Roth IRA conversion. It may not make much sense for you to pay a big tax bill now if the money, when kept in a traditional IRA, could be withdrawn at a lower tax rate later. Consequently, you may not want to convert if the money is going to your young grandchildren or to other heirs in lower tax brackets. Conversely, a conversion may make sense if you plan to leave money to heirs in their peak earning years who might be in a high tax bracket and could greatly benefit from the tax-free withdrawals provided by a Roth IRA. These are just general guidelines, of course – to determine if a Roth IRA conversion makes sense for you, you’ll need to consult with your tax advisor. And if you’d like to consider other ways to respond to the new laws that limit stretch IRAs, you’ll also want to consult with your estate planning professional. This is a big change – so you’ll want to get the help you need to make the right moves. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, member SIPC Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
Thursday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. “BURGER NIGHT” at Coloma American Legion Post 362, corner of East St. Joseph and Sassafras streets. Menu includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers & French fries. Friday, Feb. 21, 9-10 a.m. “GRAND OPENING RIBBON CUTTING” for Compassionate Care By Design, medical cannabis provisioning center located north of I-94 at Exit 41 M-140 Watervliet Friday, Feb. 21, 5-7 p.m. “SPAGHETTI DINNER FUNDRAISER” hosted by Coloma Lioness Lions Club at Riverside United Methodist Church, 4401 Fikes Rd. Free will offering supports Lioness scholarship program for Coloma students. All you can eat spaghetti served with garlic bread, salad & dessert. To-go meals available. Saturday, Feb. 22, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. “EXOTIC WILDLIFE SAFARI” with Nelson the Animal Guy at Sarett Nature Center, 2300 Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor. For tickets please call 269-927-4832 and see sarett.com for prices. Saturday, Feb. 22, 5:30 p.m. “HUNTING HERITAGE BANQUET” at Pebblewood Banquet Hall, 9794 Jericho Rd., Bridgman hosted by Berrien County Trophy Toms chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation. Call Dale Jasper at 269-921-3474 or send email to email@example.com for more info. Saturday, Feb. 22 “HALL OF FAME NIGHT” at Watervliet High School during varsity basketball game vs. Calvary High School Tuesday, Feb. 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. “FAT TUESDAY LASAGNA DINNER” at American Legion Post 362 at the corner of East St. Joseph and Sassafras streets. Dinners include lasagna, garlic toast and salad. Takeouts are available. Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m. “THE PUBLIC” film showing and discussion at Watervliet District Library Saturday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m.-noon “TAX OPEN HOUSE” at Lincoln Twp. Hall, 2055 W. John Beers Rd, Stevensville with Hungerford Nichols CPA + Advisors offered by Rep. Pauline Wendzel. Saturday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. “INDOOR SHOP HOP” hosted by Sweet Charity Sewing Group at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 601 Sycamore St., Niles. Quilting related items for sale from Indiana, Illinois & Michigan vendors. Raffle tickets with paid $5 admission and food by Brew Ha Ha of Niles. Thursday, March 5, 5-8 p.m. “HARTFORD REC COUNCIL BASEBALL & SOFTBALL SIGNUP” at Hartford Redwood Elementary School Friday, March 6, 1:30-4:30 p.m. “HARTFORD REC COUNCIL BASEBALL & SOFTBALL SIGNUP” at Hartford Redwood Elementary School Saturday, March 7, 6 p.m. “COMMUNITY HYMN SING” at Plymouth Congregational Church, 123 First St., Watervliet. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.